Why don’t other school shootings stand out as much as the Columbine High School Massacre?
This question is something I have been pondering over for a long time. Why did Columbine make such a huge impact when school shootings just like it happen so often? What made Columbine so unique? I have some theories as to why this could be.
1. The Duo: I believe the relationship Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shared is one of the biggest factors. The fact that there was not one shooter, but two, truly captivated so many people. How often can a person find someone willing to go through such heinous acts alongside them, and at such a young age? These two grew up together for many years and shared an intense hatred for the world around them. They knew what they wanted to do and began planning many months before the event took place. Because of this, the Columbine Massacre played out like no other. While most shootings have just one culprit acting on a short spurt of passion or anger, Eric and Dylan had been hellbent on revenge for a long, long time and worked together to make it happen. Neither one of them got cold feet or chickened out at any time, which proves how dedicated they were to each other and their plans.
2. The Trend: Both of them knew how the world would react to their story, that they would gain a large following and a series of copycats. In the journals they wrote and webpages they created they stated many times how they knew society would allow their names to live on forever. They knew 100% that the media attention they would get after they died would cause a domino effect in the years to follow, and they couldn’t have been more right. Since 1999, the number of school shootings has skyrocketed and are even beginning to become a trend. There were 17 major shootings in 2012 alone. Eric and Dylan hated everyone and wanted them all to die, and they were aware that by going through with the Columbine massacre, people would continue to die because of them through proxy, even after they themselves were long gone.
3. The Warning Signs: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left a staggering amount of clues and raised many red flags in the time leading up to the massacre, but it still never occurred to anyone how two young boys were capable of doing such a thing. It never even crossed anyones mind. It’s like they left a trail of breadcrumbs that no one noticed until it was too late. The two boys intentionally left bombs and guns in desks and drawers in their rooms like it was a game, and anyone could have found them and prevented the whole thing… however Eric and Dylan both knew no one was looking. They left everything out in the open so that the world would feel the guilt after the tragedy.
4. The Reasoning: The two of them documented their journey and their thought patterns leading up to the day for the world to find after the damage had been done. They wrote their plans and what they were thinking in great detail on webpages and in journals, even taping or recording themselves talking about it. No matter how many times we look at their explanations or reasonings or justifications behind their actions, we will never fully understand why they did what they did, however Eric and Dylan really did try to make it so.
5. The Making of an Icon: The way they looked, the clothes they wore, everything they did became absolutely iconic. You see a black t-shirt with WRATH written in red lettering or a white t-shirt with NATURAL SELECTION written in black and you know straight away where it’s from. The names Reb and Vodka will forever belong and make you think back to them. The black trench coats and suspenders and combat boots, the pair of gloves they shared on the day of the crime. It all seems like one big movie scene and it all links back to them. Nowadays you see the ‘new’ school shooters idolising and copying everything Eric and Dylan did, like wearing their own t-shirts with edgy phrases such as 'Humanity is Overrated’, all trying to stand out in the way the Columbine killers did so easily.
6. The Timing: The 1990’s and 2000’s were a very significant time in our history. Eric and Dylan were a part of the first generation of people to grow up with revolutionary technology such as computers and the world wide web. In this time, media was really beginning to flourish like never before and while there have been school shootings prior to Columbine, none of them ever received such an astronomical amount of attention because the means for it had never really been there to that scale. Columbine was revolutionary and Eric and Dylan, both having an above average knowledge on computers, media and the internet, knew that it was the best time to make the attack. “Producers will be fighting over our story.”
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. No one will ever really know why Columbine stood out so high above the rest. Our society works in mysterious ways and with so many tragedies happening somewhere in the world every day, there’s no way of knowing what one will make the headlines next.